By 1941, Britain was two years into another global conflict. With the need to produce clothing and other war essentials for the expanding armed services during the Second World War, many items were once again rationed. Certain raw materials (textiles, leather, wool and cotton) could no longer be imported, and those that could were directed towards the war effort.
Inflation for clothing had doubled since the beginning of the war and by May 1941, the Board of Trade needed to find a way to make clothing as cheap as possible while maintaining quality. To this end the Utility Clothing scheme (CC41 or Civilian Clothing 1941) was introduced and all stamped or labeled with the utility mark CC41.
It forbade any wasteful cutting of clothes and introduced a set of instructions for tailors and dressmakers to abide by. For instance the number of pockets were regulated to comply with the “no fabric on fabric” rule, there was a maximum length for shirts and skirts. Turn-ups for trousers, then very much in fashion, were simply banned, even buttons were regulated and were restricted to three or less.
After the war ended in 1945, but whilst rationing was still in effect, some clothing was permitted to be made under the 'luxury utility' label Double Eleven, identified by a bold circle with two strokes either side. Garments bearing this label were made from better grade fabrics, had more elaborate and technical construction, and finer quality trims.
Both utility marks became recognized as a guarantee of high quality material, workmanship and sensible design, at a moderate price.